Directed by Tom McCarthy


Following the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” investigative unit as they work to reveal the breadth of child sexual abuse in the Boston Archdiocese during the turn of the century, this film is kinda, sorta perfect. The script is perfect, the direction is pretty close, the acting is beyond, and Howard Shore’s solo-piano and Fender Rhodes based score is subtle, yet extremely affecting.

All of which is made the more amazing when you realize that the action of the film revolves around little more than characters knocking on doors or sitting in rooms. I took a film from last year to task for the same thing (“Two Days One Night”), but where that movie forgot to add a script to the proceedings, Josh Singer and Tom McCarthy’s screenplay boasts meaningful, emotional, and complete dialogue. Truly Oscar-worthy stuff.

And take your pick of the actors! Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton and Stanley Tucci are standouts! But even the smallest roles are incredibly three dimensional, which is imperative, since these characters are what imbue the film with its sky-high stakes. Toward that end, major props to Michael Cyril Creighton and Jimmy LeBlanc for their heart-breaking turns as victims turned sources. (Author’s note: I’ve been taken to task for not mentioning the incredibly realistic work of my fellow Northwestern theater alum, Brian D’Arcy James – he reminded me of my brother  – a Boston lifer – and James fades in to the reality of the film’s “Boston” so completely, he’s not as easy to point out…but he should be!)

That “Spotlight”  is being compared, favorably, to other great investigative journalism flicks, like “All The President’s Men,” is a testament to the fine work of director Tom McCarthy (“Station Agent”, “Win Win”). It is never, ever dull and when you can make newspaper reporting crescendo to such a fever pitch, you’re helming on a different level.

Finally, Howard Shore’s subtle, yet haunting, piano and Fender Rhodes themes never overpower. They merely reflect the emotion that comes with the loss of innocence and awareness of complicity that everyone in this film struggles with.

Now this is NOT a date flick. It is a serious film about VERY serious stuff. But I overheard the following as I exited the theater: “Kinda makes you rethink the whole Sinead O’Connor SNL mess, doesn’t it?”

Mission accomplished.

Easily a top-three front-runner for Best Picture. See it in a theater.

Written on 11/29/2015

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